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3.6.2 Overnight Stays

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The Department of Health issued new guidance to clarify the position in relation to overnight stays for ‘looked after children’, living both in residential accommodation and in foster care. As a result the London Borough of Redbridge has produced this procedure, which replaces the policy document entitled ‘Children Looked After - Short Stays Away.’


Contents

  1. Summary of Guidance
  2. Delegation of Decision to Foster Carers and Residential Care Workers
  3. Exceptional Circumstances when Delegated Authority will not be given
  4. Checklist for Overnight Stays with a Friend
  5. Contact with the Household where the Child will be Staying Overnight
  6. Reporting back on Overnight Stay to Social Worker
  7. DBS Clearance

    Appendix A: Record of Overnight Stay with Friends


1. Summary of Guidance

1.1 Looked after children should as far as possible be granted the same permissions to take part in normal and age appropriate activities, such as staying overnight with a school friend, as would other children.
1.2 Decisions on overnight stays with friends should in most circumstances be delegated to foster carers and residential care staff.
1.3 Only when there are exceptional reasons should the permission of the local authority be required or restrictions placed on overnight stays.
1.4 This procedure does not apply to stays with parents or others with Parental Responsibility or stays with one or more adults.


2. Delegation of Decision to Foster Carers and Residential Care Workers

2.1 In most circumstances, it will be normal practice for Redbridge to delegate day to day decision making about overnight stays with friends, to the child’s foster carer or residential officer in charge. The officer in charge may not delegate this decision to other staff except a deputy officer in charge.
2.2 This must be stated in the Foster Placement Agreement or Residential Placement Plan, as applicable. Any parameters within which the carer can agree to an overnight stay should be clearly recorded.


3. Exceptional Circumstances when Delegated Authority will not be given

3.1 In exceptional circumstances, foster carers and residential care staff will not be given the delegated responsibility to agree overnight stays. In such cases the restrictions must be clearly communicated to the carer / worker and recorded in the child’s care plan and reflected in the foster placement agreement or residential placement plan. Instead, the authority will remain with social worker / line manager. In these circumstances the foster carer or residential care worker will need to seek permission for an overnight stay from the child’s social worker, or the social worker’s line manager.
3.2 Wherever practicable the child should be consulted over the issue and their views and feelings taken into account in reaching any decision to place restrictions. The restriction and the reason for it should be fully explained to the child concerned, by the child’s social worker; unless exceptionally, this would be detrimental to their well-being.
3.3 In all cases foster carers and residential care staff should be made aware by the child’s social worker, of any individuals, addresses or areas which may place a child at risk.
3.4 Restrictions should be reviewed regularly, to ensure that they remain relevant.


4. Checklist for Overnight Stays with a Friend

Foster carers and residential officer in charge, considering a request from a child to stay overnight with a friend or friends, should base their decision on the following factors:

4.1 Are there any relevant restrictions contained for exceptional reasons in the child’s Care Plan, Foster Placement Agreement or Residential Placement Plan?
4.2 Are there any court orders, which restrict the child from making particular overnight stays?
4.3 Are there any factors in the child’s past experiences or behaviour, which would preclude overnight stays?
4.4 Are there any grounds for concern that the child may be at risk in the household concerned or from the activities proposed?
4.5 Is the child staying in the household with another child or children, rather than staying solely with an adult or adults?
4.6 The age and level of understanding of the child.
4.7 What is known about the purpose of the overnight stay?
4.8 The length of the stay.
4.9 It is important not to confuse overnight stays with a friend, with Contact arrangements with family. Contact arrangements remain the responsibility of the child’s social worker.


5. Contact with the Household where the Child will be Staying Overnight

5.1 The foster carer or residential officer in charge must have written contact details of the household where the child will be staying. Including name of responsible adult; address and telephone number.
5.2 They should make contact with the household beforehand, as a parent might, to assist in assessing the request for an overnight stay and to confirm arrangements. The foster carer or residential worker should give their contact details to the responsible adult in the household, where the child will be staying.
5.3 The child should be given details on how to contact their foster carer or residential home, so that they can make contact if they so wish.
5.4 Arrangements for how the child will get to and from the household should be clarified in advance with the responsible adult.
5.5 The child and the responsible adult will agree with the foster carer or residential home, a time at which the child will return to the placement.


6. Reporting back on Overnight Stay to Social Worker

6.1 Foster carers and residential staff should complete the attached pro-forma after each overnight stay. It should be e-mailed or posted to the child’s social worker, who will place the record on the child’s file.
6.2 If a difficulty or problem arose from the stay, the relevant section on the pro-forma should be completed and the child’s social worker should be contacted as soon as possible, in order to discuss the matter further. Otherwise, foster carer’s and residential care workers should consider raising the stay as a positive experience, at the child’s next review.


7. DBS Clearance

7.1 DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are not part of the arrangements for a child living with their own parents in the community to stay overnight with friends. Similarly, DBS checks will not normally be sought as a precondition of a looked after child staying overnight with a friend or friends.
7.2 DBS checks will however need to be sought, if the child is to stay frequently (i.e. weekly or fortnightly), or for a prolonged period of time.


Appendix A: Record of Overnight Stay with Friends

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